Whether you're a prospective payor or recipient in a spousal support case, you're probably concerned about how the outcome of your alimony dispute could impact your life. In North Carolina, spouses often find themselves needing to handle spousal support orders sooner than expected, thanks to the need for a separation agreement in North Carolina divorce cases.
At Blood Law, PLLC, our Waxhaw spousal support lawyers can help you understand the intricacies of spousal support in North Carolina. We'll do whatever it takes to pursue an equitable outcome for you in your case.
Contact us online or via phone at (704) 286-0570 to schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about our services.
What's the Point of Alimony?
During a divorce case, courts use alimony (also called spousal support) to ensure that one spouse who may not be financially stable can still support themself and maintain a good quality of life post-divorce.
In an alimony arrangement, one party pays their ex-spouse a certain amount of alimony until the ex-spouse become financially stable or no longer needs the additional support.
How Does Alimony Work in North Carolina?
If you're familiar with how alimony works in North Carolina, you know that many states have a uniform method of calculating alimony or offer specific types of alimony based on the length of the marriage or other factors.
However, North Carolina has no set guidelines for calculating alimony. The amount of alimony you pay in North Carolina depends entirely on the circumstances of your case and the judgment of the court.
For this reason, having an experienced alimony attorney to represent you in court is even more vital in North Carolina. An alimony lawyer will help you gather evidence and develop a strong case strategy that protects your rights and helps you achieve an equitable alimony arrangement. Since so much depends on the court in North Carolina alimony cases, having a legal professional who understands how to speak with the court and build a strong legal case is a necessity.
How Do Courts Decide Alimony Cases?
During alimony cases in North Carolina, the court takes a wide variety of factors into account, including:
- Whether either spouse committed marital misconduct. For example, if one spouse committed domestic violence, the court may require the spouse who committed the misconduct to pay more alimony than it otherwise would.
- The mental, physical, and emotional health of each spouse. If a spouse cannot support themself due to a mental, physical, or emotional condition, the other spouse may need to support them until that situation can be rectified.
- The education of each spouse, their current income level, and their earning potential. Frequently, custody cases occur on the heels of a divorce. If one spouse intends to get additional professional training to improve their earning potential, the alimony payment that they can afford at the time of the divorce may be less relevant in a few years. Courts take this into account when making alimony arrangements.
- The length of the marriage. Generally, the longer the marriage lasted, the more substantial the alimony arrangement will be. In situations where the spouses are both old, and one lacks the ability to support themself in the foreseeable future, the alimony arrangement may even be permanent.
- Whether either spouse contributed to the other's career or training financially during the marriage. For example, if you paid for your spouse's college under the assumption you would both reap the rewards of their degree, and then you get divorced before they graduate, they may need to repay you for that investment.
- The assets and liabilities of each spouse. Considering this helps the court ensure that the spousal arrangement is fair.
- The standard of living established during the divorce. The court uses this metric to try and ensure that both spouses maintain the same quality of life post-divorce.
- How the arrangement would impact the alimony payor. Courts do try and ensure that the alimony payor isn't negatively affected by the spousal support arrangement beyond a certain degree.
- How each spouse contributed to the marriage. Courts measure spousal contributions to try and ensure that the alimony arrangement roughly reflects how much effort each spouse put into maintaining the marriage.
- How each spouse contributed to the home. In situations where one spouse acted as a stay-at-home homemaker or parent, for example, the court will consider that as their contribution to the marriage.
- The outcome of the property division case. For example, the court may reduce the alimony recipient's alimony amount if they obtained an asset of significant value in the alimony dispute, such as the marital home.
How Long Does Alimony Last?
How long you need to pay or receive alimony for largely depends on the circumstances of your case. For example, if the court determines that one party cannot reasonably expect to achieve financial stability in the foreseeable future, the alimony arrangement may last a long time. Alternatively, if the court assumes that the alimony recipient can achieve financial stability within six months, they may stipulate that the alimony cannot last for longer than six months unless the recipient proves they still need spousal support.
If you're an alimony payor and suspect that your spouse is refusing to find employment or seek training so they can keep receiving alimony, you should consult an attorney about modifying your alimony order.
At Blood Law, PLLC, we're proud to provide our clients with high-quality alimony services. Whether you're a prospective payor or recipient, we'll work with you to defend your rights and ensure you pursue an optimal outcome in your case.
To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (704) 286-0570.
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